According to the general consensus, the bigger international ice surface that will be used in Sochi at the 2014 Winter Olympics will be an advantage for the European NHL players who grew up on it, and also those from the KHL who will make up a good portion of the host Russian team.
But it’s not like the Canadian and American squads have no experience on the bigger rink.
Take Rick Nash, who’s participated in multiple world championships and had a couple of stints in the Swiss league during NHL work stoppages. He knows exactly what it’s like.
“It’s a totally different game,” he says, per the Globe and Mail. “You have an extra half second. There’s more feet from the dots to the boards. You have different angles all over the ice. It’s just a different game. You can’t establish a fore-check as much as you want to on the NHL size. You can’t make as big hits.
“You get that extra second and sometimes you don’t know what to do with it. The guy’s not there yet and you’re already making your next play like you have to in the NHL, but there’s that extra half second. On the Olympic ice it’s easy to get caught on the outside. There’s so much room between the dots.”
For the two North American squads, the adjustment will have to be a quick one if they want to avoid a repeat of 2006 in Turin and 1998 in Nagano, where neither finished in the medals. That said, there are worse things for players like Sidney Crosby and Patrick Kane than having more time and space to make plays.
Nash, by the way, has seven goals in his last eight games for the Rangers.